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Ex-Hurricane Ophelia brings wild weather to British Isles
Late Monday evening, Australian Eastern Daylight Time, the remains of Hurricane Ophelia is scraping across the SW tip of Ireland. The eye of the ex-hurricane passed over Valentia Observatory, just inland from tip, at 11.00 UTC (22.00 AEDT) with a pressure of 959hPa. Fastnet Rock farther south reported a wind gust of 191km/h and Roches Point near Cork has recorded gusts to 156km/h. Major damage, blackouts and one death have been reported so far in southern Ireland before the high winds extend to the rest of the country in the next few hours.
Ophelia was a Category 3 (i.e. a Major Hurricane) on the Saffir-Simpson scale until earlier this morning AEDT, but has now become extra-tropical. No other hurricane since records began in 1851 has reached major status this far east in the North Atlantic. While the centre of the hurricane will initially keep just west of the Irish coast, the belt of strongest winds on its eastern flank, averaging over 100km/h, gusting to 150/160 and above in exposed locations, is now hitting the western part of the south coast of Ireland.
The ex-hurricane is forecast to move rapidly up the W coast of Ireland then turn NE across Northern Ireland and the north of Scotland while weakening. As it does, the band of hurricane-force winds will move east along the Irish south coast, then up into the Irish Sea, with Dublin and the east coast of Ireland as well as parts of Wales and SW England expected to cop a thrashing.
Most keenly watched for now is the very possible development of a sting jet. The reason it is called a "sting" jet is brilliantly descriptive. This remarkable and dangerous phenomenon (go here for simple, intermediate or detailed explanations) only became widely accepted after the great storm in southern Britain in 1987 which brought down an estimated 15 million trees, many centuries old, and caused 22 deaths and widespread damage. It marked one of the UK Met Office's most celebrated cock-ups when its hapless BBC presenter, Michael Fish, in response to widespread concern, forecast that there would be no hurricane tonight [video]. Both the UK Met Office and Irish Met Service are on notice! Those two links currently carry extensive warnings*.
For those that want to watch developments this evening and tonight, good sites include the Met Office and Met Service above, the live reporting in the UK edition of The Guardian*, the Irish Met Service's Twitter feed*, independent.ie's Twitter feed* and the Severe Weather Europe Facebook page*. Weather observations updated every 10 minutes are well presented at the French Meteociel* - this link bring a general intro page; click, say, wind gusts on the menu at left, and when that comes up click UK at the top. For local high resolution models, the ARPEGE one at WXCHARTS* is good - this link opens on the forecast wind gust speeds for the British Isles. Check the time the model was run top right of the image then use the controls bottom left, or scrub the time bar at bottom, to move through the forecasts.
Normal media of course will carry reports, moreso if the going gets rough